As the growing calls for officers of the Nigeria Police Force to be civil in the discharge of their duty, an overzealous and trigger happy Police officer of the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), attached to the Delta state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has molested a journalist on duty.
The officer and others whose identities could not be ascertain, pounced on The Nigerian Xpress Newspaper Correspondent, Godwin Udoh, a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Delta State Council for challenging the officers over intimidation.
The incidence occurred Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at the State House of Assembly Complex shortly after Governor Okowa presented the 2020 budget to the House members and was fielding questions from journalists at the entrance door to the Chambers.
Trouble started when a member of the governor’s press crew in charge of the governor’s microphone and the speaker which amplifies the governor’s voice, changed direction due to interference on the wave which led some journalists to follow him but were stopped by the Police Officer who ordered that no journalist should step beyond that boundary.
The Nigerian Xpress Newspaper reporter, an Assistant Secretary, Indigenous Correspondents’ Chapel (ICC) in the State, who told the officer that he should be allowed to record received attacks from the CTU members to his dismay.
Witnesses recounted that one of the officers, fair in complexion, used his communication gadget on the journalist face when the reporter tried to resist him over the intimidation, another one behind him rushed the journalist while a third, dark in complexion and plump, identified by his rank as DSP, slapped the journalist and used his gun boot on him while the governor was still briefing, before other journalists rushed to the scene to rescue their colleague.
A fellow journalist who was by the side of the attacked journalist who tried to pacify the security personnel inspite of his overbearing and uncivilized attitude was also threatened to be beaten up.
Investigation revealed that the officer who embarrassed the reporter, is the governor’s escort commander.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of the Police Officers, the journalist said: “when the man carrying the speaker left where we were standing, I and other journalists followed him. The Police officer told me to stay back but I told him that I wanted to record.
“He told me that he will slap me if I make any other comment. I then told him that this is intimidation. He started using the communication gadget to hit me on my mouth.
“The other one behind him came and asked me to leave, it was then I left the scene but he walked up to where I was standing to slap me. In the process I lost my phone, my recording gadget. As I speak with you, my teeth is paining me, I have even gone to the hospital for check up”, the journalist narrated.
In a swift reaction, chairman of the Indigenous Correspondents’ Chapel, Barth Ozah, condemned the actions of the Police officer, calling on Governor Okowa to call his orderlies to order as no Police officer can prevent journalists from carrying out their legitimate duties.
He said the 1999 constitution as amended empowers journalists to carry out their responsibilities within the parameters of the law, adding that since the journalists were carrying out their functions within the law, it was unlawful for the officer to slap and humiliate him when it was obvious that he didn’t go against the law.